Wage rises have ‘turned the corner’: PM

Marnie Banger
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Australia has turned a corner when it comes to wages growth, the prime minister says.

Malcolm Turnbull’s claim comes after data showed wages rose in the past quarter by the most in four years.

Total hourly rates of pay, excluding bonuses, rose 0.6 per cent in the three months to June 2018, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistic data – the steepest increase since March 2014.

Growth for the year to June 30 was 2.1 per cent, meaning it was level with inflation, which measures rising costs.

Mr Turnbull says while average wage growth may be modest, things are turning around.

“We have turned the corner on wages growth and the increase in the June quarter is an indication of that,” he told parliament on Wednesday.

But the opposition said the government has nothing to be proud of, with wage increases barely keeping up with rising living costs for many Australians.

In the private sector, workers received a 0.5 per cent increase in the quarter and two per cent over the year, putting the yearly growth below inflation.

That compared with a 0.6 per cent lift in hourly rates of pay in the public sector over the quarter and 2.4 per cent over the year.

Labor deputy leader Tanya Plibersek said the dismal results were of the government’s own making.

“They continue to do everything that they can to drive down wages, including measures like the cuts to penalty rates,” she told reporters.

Ms Plibersek said the figures reflected the feeling of many Australians that the cost of everything was going up but their wages were not, and should prompt the government to drop its tax cuts for big businesses.

“Perhaps the government should focus a little more on making sure Australians can make ends meet and a little less on padding out the profit margins of our biggest companies.”

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